A Short Note on Child Safety

We spend a lot of time and money protecting our kids from accidents–everything from car seats to picking them up by car from a friend’s hose, rather than letting them walk home alone.  Does all this monitoring and spending work?

So here’s a question for you: The accidental death rate for kids 5-14 today is about 5.4 deaths per 100,000. In 1965, the accidental death rate for this age group was:

a) about the same as today’s death rate.
b) 11, or double today’s death rate
c) 15, or triple today’s death rate.
d) 19, or more than triple today’s death rate.

And let’s do a related question. The accidental death rate for kids 1-4 is 9.5 per 100,000. In 1965 the death rate for this age group was:

a) about the same as today’s death rate
b) 19, or about double today’s rate
c) 29, or about triple today’s rate
d) 33, or more than triple’s today’s rate

The answer for both is d)..the odds of your kid dying accidentally would have been more than three times higher in 1965 than it is today. Back then, the accidental death rate for 5-14 year olds was about 19, compared to 5.4 today. The accidental death rate for 1-4 year olds was about 33 in 1965, compared to 9.5 today.

I view the decline in the accidental death rate for children as one of the hidden benefits of economic growth. We are rich enough to devote a portion of our wealth to making our kids safer. It turns out that the “Mommy State” does achieve its stated goal.

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